When you are in the final stages of a promotion chase, rain is not what you need . However, Richmond's 1st XI overcame the challenge of a stiff Duckworth Lewis target to beat Barnes and remain in control of their own destiny. With one match to go, we know that a win at North London next Saturday will seal an immediate return to the Premier League and make it a promotion double for the Club.
Barnes, on the back of an excellent victory last week, chose to bat first and they took full advantage of yet another superb Old Deer Park pitch. In truth, Richmond did not bowl particularly well and Barnes' openers took full advantage in a stand of 165 at a very healthy run rate. As the clouds gathered and thunder was heard to the North-West, the umpires decided to come off with the visitors on 266 for 4 off 40.1 overs. As the players took an early tee, Old Deer Park was finally hit by heavy rain and whilst the radar suggested that it would pass, it had been heavy enough to cause concern about the possibility of play restarting. Meanwhile, news had reached us that Harrow St Mary's had dismissed Osterley cheaply and were going to win. A win for them and no result or a defeat for the 1's would put Harrow St Mary's firmly in control of the second promotion place.
The umpires decided that play could resume at 5.25 restricting our innings to 31 overs. The Duckworth Lewis calculation did not seem to be favourable with a target of 248 set, a rate of 8 an over. Our reply started poorly with Charlie Nelson caught at slip off the 5th ball of the first over. But Vansh Jani responded strongly taking the attack to Barnes and smashing 31 off just 16 balls. He was caught on the third man boundary with the score on 40. His departure brought skipper Adam London, whose experience and ability were pivotal to our chances. Jack Nelson made an important contribution - 22 off 20 - but fell to a long-hop and another boundary catch. This brought the veteran KD to the crease and what followed was a fine display of controlled aggression and sensible batting. Both Adam and KD looked to hit boundaries but, probably more importantly, ensure that the run-rate was maintained. Singles and boundaries were combined as the pair put on 125 in 12 overs. It was a fine display. KD departed for an excellent 65 off 47 balls, including 11 4's. Tanmay Thanawalla joined Adam and appeared to be on top of the situation before he was seemingly unlucky to be adjudged LBW having contributed 13 to a partnership of 22. His dismissal brought in Eddie Bruce who also found the boundary. As importantly Adam decided that it was time to hit 6's and suddenly with 4 overs to go, we needed a run a ball. Eddie was caught and bowled with 18 still needed but the experience of Jake Dunford joined Adam and in a flash it was all over. Two boundaries from both players, the last of which secured the win with two overs to spare. It was an exceptional chase and much-needed. "Must win" can be a cliche but in the case it was true and the 1's, a side containing 7 players under 20, delivered. They go to North London next Saturday knowing that a win will secure promotion. Anything less could open the door for North London, or perhaps more likely, Harrow St Mary's.
Both the 2's and 3's saw their matches abandoned. In both cases, Richmond had batted first. At North London, there was 50 for Zain Bhatkar, 46 from Ryan Quinn and 37 for Greg King as we scored 233 all out off just 36.4 overs. At the Newman Ground, there was a welcome 70 for Nathan Parkin as the 3's were bowled out for 204 off 45. However, the rains meant that neither North London or North Middlesex batted. The 2's of course had already secured promotion as Champions. The 3's remain in 3rd place which is where they are most likely to finish.
The 4's had an exciting win against Eastcote 3's. Richmond batted first and led by Bharat Manimaran's excellent 69, set their hosts a target of 234. Eastcote looked to be cruising at one stage before Aadil Sadiq took 7 for 35. With 5 needed, the balled looked to be heading to the boundary but Sandy Mitchell kept his composure and took the catch to win the match. The 4's remain in 5th place but it should always be remembered that they play in the First Dvision of the League's Third Tier, one of only two 4th XI's to play at that level.
The 5's ran Division 3 leaders, Ealing 4's, very close going down by just 7 runs. The result sees the 5's drop to 6th in Division 3 of the MCCL tier, one place behind Hampstead 5s who they play on the final League Saturday to see which club can boast the highest-ranked 5th XI.
There is still much to play for next Saturday.